An evening of live entertainment and all that Jazz

Dear Editor,

I attended another “Jazz-labeled” event recently. This one was at a popular restaurant in Kitty.

It was scheduled to start at 1700. I arrived at 1735, thinking I was late but, for reasons unknown, I wasn’t. I arrived at the end of the Grover Washington hit-piece, “Mr. Magic”. One of the musicians later said, that this was their sound check. I was not surprised to hear that piece, given the artiste on the Bill. I then paid my $2,000, and made my way in.

As I walked about halfway up the listening area to greet a friend, I was greeted by this huge, loud wall of sound so, after exchanging greetings and salutations, I hastily beat a retreat to the back, where the wall of sound was less insurmountable.

This event was refreshingly closer to a “Jazz” event, since the music on offer lent itself to that critical element of Jazz, namely improvisation. The lineup was:- Roy Stewart, the featured artiste on Alto, Tenor and Electronic saxes; Trevor “TJ” John, keyboards; James Jacobs, bass; Joshua Dennis, drums, and they did not disappoint in that regard. Jeff Gordon, a tenor saxophonist visiting from England, was a guest artiste. He, too, delivered the goods.

Roy featured his sister, Reit (pronounced, Reet) on vocals, and she in turn, invited Amanda Reynolds to share the stage with her, in a few of her selections. While what they did was not improvisation, these two young ladies were not afraid to venture away from the melodies to the songs they rendered. With that willingness to take informed risks, and the appropriate training and guidance, they have the potential to become first rate improvisers.

The $2,000 admission fee included a meal; fish or chicken, served with “sides”. The meal proved to be a disappointment. Firstly, I had to settle for chicken, because my five attempts at attracting the server’s attention failed, so, by the time I was finally able to place my order, the fish was finished.

The chicken was dry and not-cooked-through, and there was no gravy. The rice was quasi-Spanish; there was a valiant but vain attempt at adding vegetables.

I was forcefully reminded of the difference between “contrast” and “incongruity”. During the band’s intended fifteen-minute break, I was (mis)treated to half-an-hour of a female “One-Man- Band”. This artiste’s repertoire is suited to the “Sunday Picnic” of the 60s and 70s; the type that “Curtis MG, “M-Guys” or “Syd And The Slickers” would play at, not a Jazz event; and it was loud!!

What was that act doing there?!

I will need to do research in that regard, next time I venture out to a “Jazz” event.

The bottom line is, that it was an evening fairly well spent. It is heartening to see other young musicians joining the fight to revive live entertainment in Guyana. My young friend Gavin Aaron Mendonca is passionate about this. Seeing young musicians, including young females, on stage reminded me of the vast reservoir of talent in Guyana.

The potential is there, Guyana! Let’s put the systems to nurture this talent, in place, so that Guyana can reclaim her place at the front of the pack.

In the immortal words of W.R.A “Billy” Pilgrim;

“Can we do it? Yes we can!!”

Yours faithfully,

Derry Etkins

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